Traveling physicians from U of L bring cardiac care to sick kids across Ky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's throwback medicine -- doctors going to their patients like a modern day house call. U of L Physicians are traveling to the far corners of the state to help sick kids.
Before the sun rises, and as the city sleeps, Dr. Brian Holland prepares for the day. He's expecting to see 16 patients in the next four hours.
"We see a lot of kids who were born with heart problems," Holland said.
But those sick kids will not come to a downtown highrise; Holland's team will go to them instead. Susan Conway, a cardiovascular tech, says the team makes stops in several cities, including "Campbellsville, Ashland, Paducah, Murray, Owensboro, and Bowling Green."
Pediatric heart specialists primarily practice in Louisville and Lexington, leaving many children in smaller communities lacking access to care.
"They are not as capable of coming to us, and a lot of the families really appreciate it," said Susan Conway, a cardiovascular tech.
"The kid we saw in Paducah Thursday, I think had a cold," said Veronica West, who has been with the traveling team for 27 years. "And they did a chest XRay -- three months old -- and the baby's heart was enlarged."
Groups from U of L Physicians rotate, traveling four days a week. We rode along no one trip to Elizabethtown.
The team operates pop-up clinics for patients like 2-year-old Addison Darlington. She's full of life, but sick under the surface.
"We came here and I was expecting it was going to be a heart murmur but it wasn't," said Addison's mom, Sherry Darlington. "It ended up being much larger than it was supposed to be."
Addison suffers from a birth defect that left a hole in the upper chambers of her heart. Her family drove 30 minutes for the appointment because it would have taken three hours to travel to Louisville and back.
The checkup goes well, but doctors told mom that Addy will need surgery around her 4th birthday.
Many families would not get the care they need if Holland and others from U of L Physicians didn't go to them.
But the traveling specialists recently hit a roadblock.
"The van we had was getting to be on its last legs. We actually had trouble where it was breaking down and we were canceling clinics.
Enter the Daniel Pitino Foundation, which recently provided a grant to buy the program a new van.
The non-profit was formed in memory of U of L Basketball Coach Rick Pitino's son, who died as an infant. The donation will allow the outreach to continue for roughly 5,600 patients a year.
Kids like Addison who has so much more life to live.
On Tuesday families from across the state are coming to Louisville to dedicate the new van.
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